Govt to operationalise tea auction centre in Birtamod next fiscal

Kathmandu, April 28

The government plans to start operations of the already built tea auction centre in Birtamod of Jhapa towards the beginning of fiscal year 2017-18.

Though the National Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCDB) had built the auction centre last year, it was not launched due to the inability of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) to endorse the working guideline of the auction centre on time. Similarly, the inability of the government to allocate necessary operational funds had also delayed its launch.

However, Sheshkanta Gautam, executive director of NTCDB, said that the tea auction centre — the first of its kind in Nepal — would be launched towards the beginning of next fiscal.

“MoAD has finalised the draft of working guideline of the tea auction centre and will endorse it very soon. As soon as the working guideline is endorsed by MoAD, NTCDB will start operations of the tea auction centre in Jhapa,” he said.

Addressing a programme to mark the National Tea Day here today, Gautam said that operation of the tea auction centre by the government will play an instrumental role in promoting Nepali tea.

“The primary objective of establishing a tea auction centre is to eliminate the role of middlemen in tea trade. This centre will provide a platform for buyers and sellers to come together and negotiate on prices,” he added.

Informing that Nepali tea, especially orthodox tea, has high demand in the international market, Gautam urged tea farmers to enhance the quality of their produce.

NTCDB has also mentioned of increasing the VAT refund facility for tea producers by 10 per cent to 60 per cent in the working guideline of tea auction centre, according to Gautam.

However, Govinda Dahal, president of Central Tea Cooperative Association, said that the government should properly implement the Tea Policy, 2000, to promote tea farming in the country.

“Farmers are deprived of different facilities envisioned by the Tea Policy. The government should announce cash incentives for tea exports so as to reduce the high cost of production of tea in Nepal,” he said.

Meanwhile, MoAD Secretary Suroj Pokhrel, said that the government will start fixing the price of tea leaves every year starting from next fiscal year so that farmers get a reasonable price for their produce. “Nepali tea is one of the major products of the country with high export potential and the government will do everything to promote Nepali tea and other agriculture products,” he said.

Similarly, Chitra Bahadur Shrestha, president of National Farmers Commission (NFC), urged the government to increase annual budget for commercialisation of tea farming in Nepal and its promotion in the international market.